Edmonton

St. Albert students line up to celebrate 'Ultimate pi Day'

Ultimate pi Day basically means this: If you take Saturday’s month, day and year (3/14/15) and add the time the students chose for their project (9:26:53 a.m) you end up with … wait for it … the first 10 digits of pi (3.141592653).

Pi is an irrational number that can be infinitely fascinating. No really?

Raechel recites pi digits

7 years ago
Duration 1:37
Raechel Bensusan took the challenge to see how many digits of pi she can recite from memory.

Today is Ultimate pi Day.

But there’s no school on Saturday. So the students at Elmer S. Gish Elementary & Junior High School in St. Albert decided to celebrate a day early.

Ultimate pi Day basically means this: If you take Saturday’s month, day and year (3/14/15) and add the time the students chose for their project (9:26:53 a.m) you end up with … wait for it … the first 10 digits of pi (3.141592653).

You remember pi? That pesky little symbol they tried to teach us in school.

With that in mind, junior high teacher Danielle Hagg took it upon herself on Friday to make pi a little more palatable. So she herded a bunch of kids outside, lined them up and handed out sheets of paper with hand-written numbers of them.

“Don’t go out of place, guys,” she told them.

Once the line was ready, the students recited their numbers. 3.1415 … and so on.

“I just thought it would be really, really cool to get 200 students lined up, Hagg said. “I don’t feel like there’s a lot of activities in math class. So, when a day like this comes around, it’s pretty fun to participate.”

Pi dates back at least as far as Archimedes, the Greek mathematician who used it back around 250 B.C.

According to the website Pi Day, the Greek letter π was first used in 1706 by William Jones and became popular after it was adopted by the Swiss mathematician Leonhard Euler 30 years later. Pi has been calculated to more than one trillion digits.

Raechel Bensusan, a Grade 7  student in Hagg’s class, didn’t get quite far. But on Friday she recited enough digits to earn her plenty of props from her classmates.

Think pi is just long and boring? In 1897, the state of Indiana thought so to, and tried to pass a law declaring that pi was exactly 3.2. It didn’t catch on.

Think pi is just some silly, irrational number? Well, you’re right. But don’t hold that against it. Without pi, we couldn’t accurately calculate (A = πr²) the area of a circle.

If, in the end, you think still Ultimate pi Day is no big deal, rest assured. It won't bother you again for a long time.

It only comes along once every 100 years.

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Contact CBC

Audience Relations, CBC
P.O. Box 500 Station A
Toronto, ON